There’s much to say about Vail. Which is not surprising for a resort of 5,289 acres, the biggest in Colorado. Funny, though, that one of the most repeated reader comments comprises only two simple words: “Back Bowls.” Indeed, Vail Back Bowls and its Blue Sky Basin terrain are what sets it apart, elevating it from just another mega-sized resort to, as one reader opines, “the crown-jewel of U.S. skiing.” Say others: “The back bowls are without rival.” “So extensive that even a few days after a big storm you can find areas that still have powder.” All this rolls up to a decent No. 14 for Variety, served by a speedy, and often-upgraded, network of lifts (No. 6). High scores in Lodging (No. 7), Dining (No. 5), and Service (No. 11) speak to a strong off-slope game, despite some opinions that the purpose-built string of villages just off Interstate 70 “lack character.” Predictably, readers advise prospective visitors to ”up their credit limit” and “pack a full wallet” before embarking. “You really have to figure out which kid isn’t going to college to ski there.” But at the end of the day, Vail pleases most comers with its expansive, well-maintained slopes, and readers agree this is one place all skiers have to experience. “Hail Vail! On a good snow day, the Back Bowls may offer the best ski experience on planet Earth!”
FAMILY TRAIL Hairbag Alley rides like a natural banked-slalom course through the trees. It’s a hoot. DINNER PICK Try the new Pendulum for Latin-inspired cuisine in a sunny, rustic space in Vail Village. Do order a signature cocktail off the innovative bar menu. SIGNATURE EVENT Vail ushers in the season with gusto thanks to SnowDaze, Dec. 9–11 this year, featuring a concert by the Michael Franti Trio plus a weekend of more music, parties, and expos.